Police: Ariz. man kills 5 before taking own life

Posted June 02, 2011, at 8:16 p.m.

YUMA, Ariz. — A 73-year-old man shot and killed five people, including the attorney who represented his ex-wife in their divorce, in multiple locations Thursday in a rampage that rattled this Arizona border city.

The suspect also wounded one person before being found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound roughly two hours after the first shots were fired in Yuma, a city of about 200,000. The lawyer was killed while packing up his office on his last day of work.

Yuma police identified the suspected shooter as Carey Hal Dyess of Yuma.

The timeline of events wasn’t immediately clear, but police said they responded to the first call at about 9:30 a.m.

Prominent attorney Jerrold Shelley was found dead in his downtown law office, Police Chief Jerry Geier said. Shelley represented Dyess’ ex-wife in their 2006 divorce; the divorce was Dyess’ fifth.

Shelley also was one of the lawyers representing seven young men — three sets of brothers — who sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson after accusing a priest of repeatedly raping them when they were children.

Authorities say Dyess killed four other people elsewhere in Yuma County.

An adult man and woman were found dead in a small farm house outside the town of Wellton, said Yuma police Sgt. John Otero, who was helping the sheriff’s office process the scene. The tree-shaded home was set back about 100 feet from a highway, with a cow pasture in front.

The suspect was found dead in another location near Wellton, about 25 miles east of Yuma.

It’s unclear who the other victims were or where they were killed. The wounded person was flown to a Phoenix-area hospital.

The downtown shooting prompted officials to block off a city street and lock down the nearby Yuma County Courthouse and some schools. No one was injured at the courthouse or schools, and the buildings were later reopened.

Court records show Dyess was involved in two civil court cases, one in Yuma and one in nearby Wellton.

A judge issued an order of protection against Dyess in one of the cases in 2006, and a court clerk said it stemmed from Dyess’ wife divorcing him. No further information was immediately available on those cases.

Court records also show the 2006 divorce was Dyess’ fifth, with the previous four divorces all happening in Washington state.

Yuma attorney Amanda Taylor was friends with Shelley and described him as a good man who was dedicated to his Mormon beliefs.

She said Shelley’s wife also worked in the office, and that they have two grown children.

“This is very frightening” she said. “You know, family law, that’s some of the most dangerous law to practice because it’s so emotional, but it’s usually the younger ages when it’s about custody issues.”

She said Shelley was wrapping up a long career.

“He was retiring. He literally was packing up his office today,” Taylor said. “He was an excellent family man. Well-respected in this community. Very kind. I’m just sick. I’ve lost such a good friend.”

Others in Yuma expressed similar feelings of grief, with Mayor Al Krieger calling the shootings a tragedy for the victims and their families.

“It’s one of those things where someone went and did something very, very foolish,” Krieger said. “I’m sorry for the loss of life.”

Yuma County Presiding Judge Andrew Gould issued a statement through the Arizona Supreme Court saying officials were “thankful that those within the courthouse are safe,” but shocked and saddened at the violent acts that occurred in the close-knit community.

Gov. Jan Brewer said she was “horrified” at the news and expressed sympathy for the victims’ families.

“Many questions remain unanswered at this point, but I know that law enforcement and investigators will be working to piece together this tragedy in the days ahead,” she said in a statement. “In the meantime, this cruel violence has left a void in our hearts.”

Associated Press writers Mark Carlson and Amanda Lee Myers in Phoenix contributed to this report.

 

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